Skip to comments.The Rev. Canon James T. Payne: sermon for Ash Wednesday
Posted on 03/05/2006 5:55:21 PM PST by sionnsar
From the Rev. Canon James T. Payne of St. Thomas of Canterbury REC in Houston, here is a sermon for Ash Wednesday. In this sermon, Rev. Payne gives some of the background for that day, which I had not known:
Lent has been part of the common life of the Church since the early part of the fourth century. It reminds us of the forty-day fast of our Lord in the wilderness. Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and repentance, intended to prepare us for Easter.Indeed, the only thing that can cover our sins, that can blot out our transgressions, is the blood of Jesus. As Rev. Payne goes on to say:
The custom of placing ashes as a sign of penitence originated under Pope Gregory I, who was Bishop of Rome from to 590 A.D. to 604.
Those of us who have fireplaces or charcoal grill know all about ashes. They are what is left after combustion takes place. Gardeners know that ashes can be used to help grow plants. But basically ashes are worthless. In fact they are often less than worthless they are a hindrance and a liability. You can't make ashes pretty by painting them, and you can't make ashes smell good by spraying perfume on them. Ashes are just ashes.
And so it is with us people are just people. When all is said and done, no matter how much righteous paint we cover ourselves with, no matter how much virtuous perfume we spray on ourselves, we are fallen and sinful. Christians are, after all, redeemed sinners, but remain sinners in need of God.
We do not believe the ashes have any magical power to purify us of our sin. Only Jesus Christ can accomplish that. However, their use can remind us of the cleansing power of Jesus Christ. The sign of ash signifies our need for self-examination and penitence during this holy season of Lent that we may be broken open and prepared for new life as the baptized people of God.May we use this Lenten season to affirm and strengthen the hope that is in us, that we might witness of that hope to a world that is searching for that mercy and forgiveness that we have found in Jesus Christ. My thanks to Rev. Payne for an excellent sermon.
We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance, and for the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We begin our journey to Easter with the sign of ashes. This ancient sign speaks of our mortality, of the frailty and uncertainty of human life. But in Christ, the ashes are a sign of hope.